India’s Akash Kumar and Narender advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2021 AIBA Men’s Boxing Championships with commanding victories in Belgrade, Serbia on Sunday.
While, Akash outclassed Puerto Rico’s Caleb Tirado by unanimous margin in the 54kg Last-16 bout, Narender produced a power packed performance to upstage the former Asian Games champion veteran Tajikistan pugilist Jakhon Qurbonov by the Referee Stopping the Contest (RSC) verdict in the second round of the +92kg kg pre-quarterfinals contest.
Akash started the day for India on a winning note. Playing their first match in the competition, both the boxers began with an aggressive note and traded punches continuously in a highly busy first two rounds of the 54kg Last-16 bout.
The 21-year-old Indian had received a walkover in his opening match while Tirado was given bye in the first round.
The tallest among the two pugilists, Akash made good use of his height and landed some sharp punches to tilt the momentum in his favour. Having taken a comfortable lead after the first two rounds, Akash showed tactical brilliance and started maintaining distance in the final round which denied his opponent any chance to make a comeback into the match.
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With these dominating triumphs, Akash and Narender are now a win away from confirming a medal for the country at the on-going Championships.
Later tonight, two more Indian pugilists will play their respective pre-quarterfinals bouts. The current Asian champion Sanjeet (92kg) and debutant Nishant Dev (71kg) will play against Georgia’s Giorgi Tchigladze and Mexico’s Alvarez Verde respectively.
Earlier, in the matches played late on Saturday, seasoned boxer Shiva Thapa made his way into the Last-16 stage with an easy 5-0 victory against John Brown in the 63.5kg round-of-32 contest. The five-time Asian champion put up a dominating show against his opponent from Sierra Leone to continue his winning run at the tournament.
India’s Shiva Thapa (in Red) punches John Brown of Sierra Leone – BFI
Meanwhile, another Indian in action, Govind Sahani (48kg) ended his campaign in the pre-quarterfinals stage after suffering a 4-0 defeat against Georgia’s Sakhil Alakhverdovi. Sachin Kumar also went down fighting against USA’s Robby Gonzales in the 80kg Last-32 match.
While Akash and Narender entered the quarterfinals, eight other Indian boxers, from the 13-member Indian contingent that took part at the world’s prestigious event, have made it to the pre-quarterfinals stage. Apart from Govind, who made exit on Saturday, challenge is still alive for remaining boxers in the tournament, which has been witnessing a strong competition between 650 top boxers from more than 100 participating countries from across the world.